South African startup Legal Legends is striving to give startups and entrepreneurs cheaper access to legal services through e-commerce.
Launched in February by Kyle Torrington and Andrew Taylor, Legal Legends is the “natural evolution” of the pair’s previous startup LexNove, which launched last year to allow legal service providers to bid for user-posted jobs.
LexNove has now become Legal Legends, which has since been awarded grant funding by HiiL and has served around 190 startups and small businesses to date. Torrington says the startup is the first e-commerce website in Africa – and possibly the world – that provides quality, affordable legal services for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses at fixed upfront prices.
Orders made through the platform are distributed among a panel of highly-rated freelance lawyers. “Ordering quality legal services is now as easy as ordering a kettle from Takealot,” Torrington says.
Legal Legends has launched in a bid to disrupt the legal services industry, with Torrington saying the models used to render legal services have historically been constrained by numerous inefficiencies, widening the gap between those who render legal services and those who require access to them.
“The average South African consumer is unable to access high-quality legal services as a result of, amongst others, the uncertainty attached to hourly legal fees, unscalable resources, and a characteristic reticence to adopt technological efficiencies, all of which are unavoidably passed on to an unwitting consumer,” he says.
“Additionally, over 70 per cent of the South African workforce is employed by small to medium size companies that often don’t have significant cash flow reserves. This translates to a significant portion of the workforce – not to mention a key stakeholder in the economy – being unable to afford the cost of legal fees, even where desperately needed.”
Even where these fees are affordable, hourly rates are often unclear. They average between ZAR1,000 (US$72) and ZAR4000 (US$288) per hour, while the user is given no real notion of the total costs to be incurred in respect of any given legal matter.
Torrington says the target market for Legal Legends is thus two-fold: those that seek legal advice and guidance but have traditionally not been able to afford high quality legal services, and those who have been able to afford legal services, but now seek a quantifiable and value-oriented approach to high calibre legal services. He is certain Legal Legends has come up with an innovative way of fixing these problems.
“In Africa, and to the best of our knowledge, the world, a purely e-commerce approach to legal services has not been attempted. Legal Legends blends e-commerce with quality, affordable legal services at fixed upfront prices,” he says.
The platform offers a range of services geared for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, such as company registration, intellectual property (IP) registration, drafting of company incorporation documents and agreements, and online video legal consultations.
In the near future, the platform will host a range of intelligent template agreements, which will be automatically generated based on a user’s inputs. Torrington says the lawyers on the platform have been carefully selected. Most have primarily practised at big law firms in the past, but have since left to set up freelance or boutique-sized practises.
“This way, the high rise office rental and customised stationery costs aren’t built into their fees, and hence, our lawyers are able to charge much less than a traditional large law firm, but maintain the big law quality,” he says.
Legal Legends has served approximately 190 startups and small businesses to date, and is set to begin more aggressive marketing using the HiiL funding. Though only operating in South Africa for now, Torrington says the startup has plans to expand into the rest of Africa, as well as to India and Australia.
“We are currently cash flow positive, and our revenue is generated through the services and membership programmes that are purchased through our e-commerce platform,” he says.
“The biggest issue is creating awareness of the existence of the Legal Legends platform, and that quality legal services can be rendered through an e-commerce platform.”
Taylor says the pair had pivoted away from LexNove model as it had experienced some friction given it required a range of service providers to submit proposals.
“Legal Legends cuts this friction out by soliciting a range of fixed price “menu” items, which allows the user to identify their problem and solve it with far greater immediacy,” he says. “We have, however, retained the ability for users to obtain a custom quote through Legal Legends for more complex, less routine matters, in addition to making a live chat facility available for users to engage directly.”